David Axelrod
(Copyright © 1999 Piero Scaruffi | Legal restrictions - Termini d'uso )

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David Axelrod (born in Los Angeles in 1936) came to prominence in the early 1960s as a jazz and rock producer, but his most lasting legacy is likely to be his pioneering work integrating funk breakbeats, orchestral arrangements and psychedelic melodies, thereby foreshadowing dance music of the late 1990s. In 1966-67 he began his association with jazz greats Cannonball Adderley and Lou Rawls, and he will remain their trusted producer for a decade. In 1967 he virtually redefined the sound of the Electric Prunes, whose albums are basically his rather than theirs.

His first two solo albums, Song of Innocence (Capitol, 1968), released four months before VanDyke Parks' Song Cycle, and Songs of Experience (Capitol, 1969), both based on William Blake poems, sounded wildly eccentric because they were arranged for bass, drums and strings (Earl Palmer on drums). Their dark, depressed ambience predates trip-hop.

Song of Innocence tracks: Urizen, Holy Thursday, The Smile, A Dream, Song Of Innocence, Merlin's Prophecy, The Mental Traveler.

Song of Experience tracks: The Poison Tree, A Little Girl Lost, London, The Sick Rose, The School Boy, The Human Abstract, The Fly, A Divine Image.

They were followed by another ambitious album, Earth Rot (Capitol, 1970), one of the first environmentalist albums (a suite in eight movements), by Rock Messiah (RCA, 1971), a rock interpretation of Handel's masterpiece, Axelrod's ultimate post-Electric Prunes dream. and by The Auction (Decca, 1972), a soundtrack that was virtually a tribute to blues music (and contains The Auction and The Leading Citizen).

Axelrod found his mature voice on Heavy Axe (february 1974 - Fantasy, 1974), highlighted by the ghostly groove of Mucho Chupar and Everything Counts (a remake of Holy Thursday), although hampered by a few rock covers.

Then came the trilogy of albums each containing six long songs: Seriously Deep (Polydor, 1975), another stand-out in terms of sophistication and beats (1000 Rads alone is worth the price, plus Miles Away, One, Ken Russell, Go For It, Reverie), Strange Ladies (MCA, 1977), with Aunt Charlotte, Mujer Extrana, Tony Poem, Mrs. O.J.A., Terri's Tune, Sandy, and Marchin' (MCA, 1980), with Wandering Star, Spectrum, Jahil, Marchin', Dr. T., Threnody for a Brother. These rank among his best and most funk-jazz works.

After a long hiatus, Axelrod returned to solo recording with the ambitious Requiem: The Holocaust (Liberty, 1993), in four movements, and The Big Country (Liberty, 1995), an odd tribute to country music.

An Axelrod Anthology (Stateside, 1999) is an anthology.

In the 1990s Axelrod's breakbeats were re-discovered by several disc-jockeys (e.g., DJ Shadow), who began sampling his grooves.

David Axelrod (Mo' Wax, 2001) builds songs out of rhythm tracks that Axelrod had recorded in 1968 for an unreleased Electric Prunes album. majestic, richly textured orchestral tapestries, tastefully arranged by veterans of rock, soul and jazz (The Little Children, Crystal Ball, The Shadow Knows, Fantasy for Ralph, For Land's Sake, Loved Boy).

The Edge (Blue Note, 2005) collects material from his classic albums of 1966-70.

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